Thursday 18, August 2022

PM Hasina urges int’l solidarity to face crisis caused by war

News Desk: Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday called for greater multilateral cooperation and global solidarity to bravely deal with the ‘looming humanitarian crisis caused by Russia-Ukraine war and subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions.’

‘As the world is passing through a difficult time due to Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts, food and energy crisis, climate change and natural disasters, the need for strengthened multilateral cooperation and global solidarity deserves more attention than ever,’ she said.

The prime minister said this while inaugurating the 20th session of D-8 Council of Ministers at Hotel InterContinental in Dhaka. She joined the programme virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.

PM Hasina said that a humanitarian crisis was looming due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and, the subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions that have disrupted the production and supply of food, fertiliser, energy and power and other commodities.

‘We should all come forward to address this looming humanitarian crisis,’ she said.

She said that while the world was reeling from the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict had pushed the world to a fresh danger.

She mentioned that countries like Bangladesh had been bearing the brunt of the impacts of the war most.

‘Prices of the essentials had gone beyond the purchasing capacities of the most of people,’ she said.

The PM said that the government in Bangladesh had taken comprehensive measures to mitigate the impacts of coronavirus pandemic on the economy and revive it to desired growth trajectory.

So far, she said, the government had announced 28 stimulus packages equivalent to $23 billion which was 6.3 per cent of the country’s GDP.

She mentioned that a total of 67.4 million people and 118,000 business entities had been benefited from these packages.

‘Bangladesh is one of the very few countries which have successfully vaccinated its targeted population against Covid-19,’ she told the conference.

She said that Bangladesh had been ranked fifth out of 121 countries and the first among the South Asian counties in Covid-19 recovery index.

Talking about the advancement of the country, Hasina said that Bangladesh had made impressive progress in all social-economic sectors over the last one decade.

She mentioned that poverty rate has gone down to 20 per cent with per capita income increased to $2,824.

She pointed out that robust agricultural growth had made the county self-sufficient in food production. There was gender equality in all sectors. Enrolment at primary level had gone up to 97.81 per cent, child mortality rate significantly decreased to 28 per 1000 live-births and life expectancy increased to 72.8 years.

She said that more than 98 per cent population had been brought under safe water and sanitation network. Access to government services had been made digital and easy, and 5.8 per cent of the national budget had been earmarked for social security and welfare programmes.

‘Our sustained efforts in all areas of socio-economic advancement had paved the way to graduating from the LDCs,’ she said.

The prime minister said that last month, she opened the longest bridge in Bangladesh, the Padma Bridge, which was an engineering marvel built entirely with the country’s own funds.

She said that the bridge was expected to contribute 1.23 per cent to the annual GDP.

She mentioned that the mega projects, including Metro rail, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Payra Seaport, Karnafuli tunnel, Elevated Expressway, 100 Special Economic Zones and High-Tech IT parks, were being implemented.

‘These will be crucial to realise our vision to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh by 2041,’ the PM said.

However, she said, there were many challenges for Bangladesh in its endeavours to be a developed country.

In this regard she said that global warming and climate change had posed tremendous threat to the country’s existence.

‘Having located in a unique hydro-morphological system in the largest delta of the world and with a densely populated coastline, the impact of climate change was extreme for Bangladesh,’ she said.

The prime minister said that the D-8 countries with more than one billion population had enormous potentials for economic cooperation.

She mentioned that Bangladesh had been attracting investment through its liberal, friendly investment policies and arrangement of linkages between foreign and local businesses.

She said that the export earning had increased from $18 billion in 2010 to over $52 billion in the last fiscal year.

In this regard, she said Bangladesh, currently the 41st largest economy in the world, was set to become the 25th by 2035.

‘We look forward towards new partnerships to attain our shared vision of prosperity for the people keeping in mind the guiding focus in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.’

She called upon the D-8 countries to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the grouping with new focus on some specific areas for the next decade.

The areas are Preferential Trade Agreement or PTA, D-8 Economic Zone, ICT, diversified agriculture to ensure food security and alternative energy sources.

Regarding the finalisation of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement, she said, it would help harmonise the intra-country trade, liberalize the barriers, and stimulate trade and economic cooperation among the member states.

The PM said that the 25-year-old D-8 was now poised to deliver its goal of economic development through creating synergies.

‘This is possible through political commitment and meaningful cooperation of our public and private sectors. The immense possibility that we have, if realized properly, will heighten our power as an economic bloc,’ she told the meeting.

She urged the member countries to ‘work together to provide the impetus for harnessing our potentials towards a prosperous future.’

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, D-8 secretary general ambassador Isiaka Abdulqadir Imam, state minister for foreign affairs ministry Md Shahriar Alam, president of D-8 Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sheikh Fazle Fahim and foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen also spoke at the programme.

A documentary on the D-8 and its 25 years journey was screened at the programme.


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